LEARN FROM SCRIPTURES, TURNING THEM INTO A PRAYER
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Having quoted from OT, now makes general statement about OT “for our instruction.” We Gentiles might dismiss it as Jewish book, written long before Christ, so no relevance.
What is it designed to do?
To give “endurance … encouragement” and so produce “hope.” There is a need to keep going with joy, sure hope of glory, especially as we fellowship with others. It is hard when we endeavour to constantly please others, but not getting thanks expected, to become weary
How do Scriptures do this? Two essential things: study and prayer
(1) Study the Scriptures (v. 4). We must not be ignorant of teaching, promises, lives of saints Job endured (Jas. 5:11), faith of cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), personal struggles of Psalmists, encouraging promises of prophets for both present and future.
You must never think you have special, peculiar temptations (1 Cor. 10:13)
First reason why you find Christian life hard, joyless, even doubting future. It is because of little study of Scriptures.
(2) Pray in what you read (vv. 5-6).
The second reason why Christian life is hard, joyless, even doubting future – little prayer, in accordance to God’s will. Paul combines exhortation to men and prayer to God
Scriptures necessary. However, it can be a dead letter unless God works through them by His Spirit. It is God Himself who is the Source of “endurance … encouragement” so Paul and we must pray to Him, sure that He will do what is right and pleasing.
We need to be in “such harmony” = have same mind (12:16, 2 Cor. 13:11, Phil. 2:2). Obviously this is not necessarily agreeing on everything, but having the same purpose of wanting to please others. This is exactly what Christ wants, and the example He set was that of service to others not giving significance to Himself.
Higher purpose of unity so that together with heart expressed in voice, might glorify God. Can selfish, unChristlike, divided Christians really bring glory to God? NO! only unity is God-glorifying!
The reason why sometimes we struggle in prayers is because we are praying for the same things year in year out – healing, journey mercies, close/opening of schools… while there is nothing wrong in and of these things, we do not see the first Christian saints praying for these things. They prayed for such things like grace, peace, joy, harmony, endurance, etc. that God is glorified. May we learn to pray Biblically, not just according to our desires!